Another dot in the blogosphere?

Experimental lessons, really?

Posted on: July 21, 2020

This STonline article claimed that we have five things to learn from our enforced home-based learning (HBL) — our version of emergency remote teaching. They were:

  1. Crossover lessons
Recorded lessons
  3. Homework by video
  4. Parents as teacher aides
  5. Gamification

I call them claims because these are arguments based on anecdotes, not rigorous studies or critical reflections on practice. To be fair, a newspaper is not an educational journal or teaching website. To be balanced, I provide some critique.

Crossover lessons are what the author said were those conducted at home that could be replicated in the classroom. The lesson on building models at home to illustrate concepts in physics was not quite that. It seemed more like a transfer of a classroom activity to the home. It was a crossover, but not in the direction the author intended.

How about recorded lessons? The author did not say anything about the quality of such lessons, just that they are useful for whenever-whatever learning emergency. The latter is still the conversation piece, but we need to move on to lessons worth recording.

A good point raised about homework by video was that students who might not write well might find such homework to their advantage — they can record video and/or audio of themselves. A takeaway could have been about reaching learners, not homework per se. After all, video homework can still be busy work or it can hold back learners who are more reticent.

How about parents as teacher aides? This should have been about the home environment supporting what happens in the classroom. Instead, it was reduced learning styles (note the reference to “kinaesthetic learner”). This was a step backward in educational progress as it ignored research that debunks learning styles.

Gamification. Ugh. This is overused, misunderstood, and overhyped. There was nothing in the article that broke the mould of “gamification” be it in the classroom or online. If there is no change, there is no learning.

For some strange reason, the author or editor of the piece decided that the last anecdote about the “compassion and empathy” of teachers was left for last and put under the header of gamification. These traits have little to do with gamification and could have been the focus on an article. But who wants to read about teachers learning more about their students and connecting better with them, right?

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